WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
- Stay with us and keep calm.
The last thing we need when we’re panicking, is to have someone else panicking with us.
- Offer medicine if we usually take it during an attack.
You might have to ask whether or not we take medicine- heck, some might not; but please, ask. It really helps.
- Move us to a quiet place.
We need time to think, to breathe. Being surrounded by people isn’t going to help.
- Don’t make assumptions about what we need. Ask.
We’ll tell you what we need. Sometimes; you may have to ask- but never assume.
- Speak to us in short, simple sentences.
- Be predictable. Avoid surprises.
- Help slow our breathing by breathing us or by counting slowly to 10.
As odd as it sounds, it works.WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO:
1. Say, “You have nothing to be panicked about.”
We know. We know. We know. And because we know we have nothing to be panicked about, we panic even more. When I realize that my anxiety is unfounded, I panic even more because then I feel like I’m not in touch with reality. It’s unsettling. Scary.
Most of the time, a panic attack is irrational. Sometimes they stem from circumstances — a certain couch triggers a bad memory or being on an airplane makes you claustrophobic or a break up causes you to flip your lid — but mostly, the reasons I’m panicking are complex, hard to articulate or simply, unknown. I could tell myself all day that I have no reason to be having a panic attack and I would still be panicking. Sometimes, because I’m a perfectionist, I become even more overwhelmed when I think my behaviour is “unacceptable” (as I often believe it is when I’m panicking). I know it’s all in my mind, but my mind can be a pretty dark and scary place when it gets going.
Alternate suggestion: Say, “I understand you’re upset. It is okay. You have a right to be upset and I am here to help.”
2. Say, “Calm down.”
This reminds me of a MadTV sketch where Bob Newhart plays a therapist who tells his patients to simply “Stop it!” whenever they express anxiety or fear. As a sketch, it’s funny. In real life, it’s one of the worst things you can do to someone having a panic attack. When someone tells me to “stop panicking” or to “calm down,” I just think, “Oh, okay. I haven’t tried that one. Hold on, let me get out a pen and paper and jot that down, you jerk.”
Instead of taking action so that they do relax, simply telling a panicking person to “calm down” or “stop it” does nothing. No-thing.
Alternate suggestion: The best thing to do is to listen and support. In order to calm them down without the generalities, counting helps.
3. Say, “I’m just going to leave you alone for a minute.”
Being left alone while panicking makes my heart race even harder. The last thing I want is to be left by myself with my troubled brain. Many of my panic attacks spark from over-thinking and it’s helpful to have another person with me, not only for medical reasons (in case I pass out or need water) but also it’s helpful to have another person around to force me to think about something other than the noise in my head.
Alternate suggestion: It sometimes helps me if the person I’m with distracts me by telling me a story or sings to me. I need to get out of my own head and think about something other than my own panic.
4. Say, “You’re overreacting.”
Here’s the thing: I’m not. Panic attacks might be in my head, but I’m in actual physical pain. If you’d cut open your leg, no one would be telling you you’re overreacting. It’s a common trope in mental health to diminish the feelings or experience of someone suffering from anxiety or panic because there’s no visible physical ailment and because there’s no discernible reason for the person to be having such a strong fear reaction.
The worst thing you can tell someone who is panicking is that they are overreacting.
Alternate suggestion: Treat a panic attack like any other medical emergency. Listen to what the person is telling you. Get them water if they need it. It helps me if someone rubs my back a little. If you’re in over your head, don’t hesitate to call 911 (or whatever the emergency services number is where you are). But please, take the person seriously. Mental health deserves the same respect as physical health.
Number 3 of the “do not do” list is all anyone has ever done for me. i hate people.
also a good reminder for people who have never had a panic attack: panic attacks usually happen randomly for no explainable reason and they feel like heart attacks. The person having a panic attack is showing so much anxiety because they feel like they are dying. They are feeling heart attack symptoms even though they are not having a heart attack. Take these people seriously. Panic attacks are not anxiety attacks.
I actually think this was one of my favorite and most powerful scenes in the show. Kate Mulgrew expertly portrayed the hurt we’ve all felt at one point or another when we were ostracized by people we wanted so desperately to be accepted by and the fact that this feeling knows no boundaries of age.
I ached for her in this scene.
Bawled like a fucking baby.
For those who haven’t heard, I recently got engaged and am needing to start a wedding fund! As a bookseller, I’m not exactly rollin’ in the dough Scrooge McDuck style. (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do and pray I never have to do anything else) BUT…if you are looking for certain books, feel free to email me at email@example.com. I have THOUSANDS of books here in my shop and will make you a great deal! Thanks so much!
If only more people thought like this.
More bookshelf rambles.
So, I got all of my books put on shelves the way I wanted them… they looked lovely. Then I got the idea that I should purge some books. I did this because:
1. I was scrolling through all my unread books on my Kindle and realizing there’s a lot of them.
2. There are some physical books that have been sitting there for over a year or so and I don’t have plans anytime to read them.
So, off I went with a footlocker full of books to my local Half Price Books. Got $20 in trade for the lot of them…. so I snagged up Paper Towns by John Green (Still working on acquiring all of his works) and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (even though I have it on my Kindle… I need it in physical form because I love it so much).
Long story short…I need to re-organize my living room shelves again because of this purge.